Storms brought flash floods and lightning strikes to the Midlands as almost a month’s rain fell in one hour on Thursday.
Torrential downpours battered Birmingham and the Black Country in the morning, while a pensioner died after being swept away by a swollen stream in Shropshire.
More than one and a half inches of rain fell in the West Midlands, close to the normal monthly figure of two inches.
An inch of rain fell in Birmingham between 10.15am and 10.45am, according to the Met Office.
The city was cloaked in darkness under black skies illuminated only by violent flashes of lightning during the thunderstorm.
Traffic ground to a halt on the M6, from junction 5 at Castle Bromwich to junction 10 near Walsall, as drivers battled against driving rain.
Birmingham’s A38M Aston Expressway was closed in both directions because of flooding after its underpasses became blocked by water.
The Environment Agency issued a flood warning for the River Rea at Edgbaston, Stirchley and Nechells after it rose by five feet in 90 minutes. The River Teme in Water Orton also rose by several feet.
The rain also affected transport, schools and caused major traffic problems.
Pupils from Primrose Community School in Kings Norton were evacuated to a local high school after a bolt of lightning struck its buildings.
There were no injuries but the school closed for the day. Many other Birmingham schools also sent pupils home after the storms hit.
West Midlands Fire Service’s Fire Control staff dealt with 282 incidents in just over an hour and a half.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service also dealt with 156 distress calls within an hour, including crews being called to New Cross Hospital maternity Unit in Wolverhampton to pump out flood water.
Two elderly ladies were also rescued from an OAP home in Old Hill, Wolverhampton, as flood water caused a wall to collapse.
In Birmingham, residents in Fashoda Road, Selly Park, saw their street flooded by six inches of water from the River Rea.
Incredibly, the water subsided within three hours and substantial damage was avoided.
Resident Denise Donoghue, 51, said: ‘‘We were flooded four years ago, so we were really scared when the water got to the front door.